Frequently Asked Questions


           Revision: 1.2 Date: 1997/06/10 05:14:18

This is the Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ) list for the Usenet (hereafter 
abbreviated as rgva.collecting [or RGVAC]) This FAQ is posted 
every 14 days and the current copy should be considered to 
supersede all previous postings.

This FAQ was developed by Tony Jones, and reviewed by Doug 
Jefferys and Steve Ozdemir. This document may be freely 
distributed, as long as the above credits remain in place.

Information about UK sources and European TV/monitor 
specifications was kindly provided by John Keay.

Comments and suggestions for improvement welcomed. Send email 

Index of Items
> indicates a change since the last revision of the FAQ
* indicates new information

1.  What is rgva.collecting?
2.  Guidelines to posting to rgva.collecting
3.  Answers to some frequently asked questions (FAQs)
4.  Other FAQs available for this group
>5. Further sources of information
6.  Some commonly used terms and acronyms.

1)  What is rgva.collecting?

rgva.collecting is a forum for discussion related to the 
discussion are the various methods available to purchase games, 
technical discussions of game hardware, issues relating to the 
maintenance/repair of games, and game conversion, which is the 
process of converting or augmenting an existing game to play one 
or more additional games.

     Discussion of ALL games (including those currently in the 
arcades) is welcome on rgva.collecting, as long as the 
discussion is directly related to collecting (as defined above). 
Postings relating to arcade game play, game history, game 
features and game advocacy (the various merits of one arcade 
game over another) should be directed to the parent group, (rgva), unless a clear link to collecting 
can be made. PLEASE DO NOT post discussing home/pc versions of 
arcade games.  Instead post to a more appropriate group, such as 
'' or ''.

     Having said this, concensus indicates that discussion 
related to direct 'emulation' of the original game on a home/pc 
system is welcome on rgva.collecting. However, *please* don't 
post asking for a copy of ROM data, by doing so, you are asking 
someone to break the law. Also, please refrain from advocacy 
postings related to why it 'really' isn't illegal (it is) or why 
it should be legal.

1.1)  History of rgva.collecting

     The initial "request for discussion" for the formation of 
rgva.collecting was issued on Wednesday October 20th 1993 by 
Tony Jones. Voting began on Wednesday November 24th. With help 
from Steve Ozdemir who rallied the VAPS membership, the 
newsgroup came into being on Wednesday December 22nd having 
passed the newgroup creation process 4 days earlier by a vote of 
165 to 16 In the early days of the newsgroup, traffic was in the 
low tens of articles per day, rising by 1996 to around 100 
articles per day.

2)  Guidelines to posting to rgva.collecting.

     rgva.collecting is a Usenet group, no different from any 
other. As such, most if not all of the usual guidelines for 
posting articles apply. Remember that before posting to rgva.
collecting you should already be familiar with the posting 
conventions and guidelines that are posted periodically to the 
newsgroup "news.announce.newusers". If you cannot find these 
guidelines by reading the group, wait a while and a copy *will* 
be posted, or try asking fellow users or the system 
administrators at your site for a copy.

     In addition, newcomers are strongly advised to read rgva.
collecting for at least a few weeks (at a minimum, have read 
this FAQ) before posting for the first time.

     You are, of course, free to ignore all of this advice. You 
should, however, remember that your postings reflect upon 
yourself. If you choose to pursue collecting video games 
further, you will be dealing with people who read your postings, 
and first impressions can often be lasting.

3)  Answers to some frequently asked questions:


--  How can I get the list of moves for the game 
--  I was playing "punch&kick" last night and this happened, has 
       anyone else ever seen it?
--  Does anyone know of an arcade which has the game "old&dated"?
--  My favourite arcade game is "classic". What is yours ?
--  What is your highest score on Tempest ?

    Please don't post these questions to rgva.collecting. These 
are "gameplay"-related questions; they belong in


--  There is supposed to be this 'cool' PD version of Tempest 
       for the Macintosh. Can anyone tell me where the ftp site 
       is ?
--  What good versions of arcade games exist for home machines?
       Please don't post these questions to rgva.collecting. 
       These are home/pc related questions; they belong in rec. or


--  I'm new to collecting, someone is offering me a PacMan for 
       $900. He says it is a 'classic', it's 'hard to find' and 
       he regularly sells them at this price. Is this really a 
       fair deal ?
--  I have a Asteroids I'm looking to sell. Someone told me he 
       had heard of a friend who had sold one for $1000. I 
       should be able to sell mine for the same - right ?

     Most rgva.collecting readers would consider $300-$400 a 
fair price for one of the above machines in good condition.
Paying significantly more for the above is an example of the 
phenomenon known as "Greater Fool Theory" (GFT) which Jim Grove 
described as follows in a posting to rgva.collecting:

     "This is the sort of thing you will see if video arcade 
game collecting gets a 'guide book'. The idiot that develops the 
guide book will take the claim that someone has sold a game for 
$800-900 and has heard that people sell them as high as $1200. 
The next issue of the guide has the game listed at $1200. People 
then become consumed by GFT. The comic book, BB and Dutch tulip 
markets all operate under the GFT."  Basically, if GFT prevails, 
real collectors will find it much harder to own their favorite 
arcade machines. Something for you as a collector to consider 
next time you sell a game!

     There is however a flip side. There are several games which 
had production runs in the low hundreds (PacMan was produced in 
the tens of thousands) for which $1000 would be considered the 
'going rate' by many collectors. Then there are 'prototype' 
games which may never have been released for which only one or 
two may exist.

     The only real way to get a good feeling for what a game is 
worth is to read rgva.collecting for several months.


--  I want to buy the game "my favorite", what can I do?

    First, do some research before posting. You'll learn a lot 
in the process.  The knowledge in this FAQ, for instance, came 
from doing the same kind of research.

Games can be bought from four main sources:

a) ...from operators,

     Operators are the people who provide the games you see in 
Arcades and movie theatres. Older games cease to make money, and 
often get "warehoused". The "Amusement Devices" section of your 
Yellow Pages is the best place to find a list of operators. Many 
operators also place stickers with their name and phone number 
on games they operate. You can also try asking the people who 
work at the local arcade where they get their games.  Often 
dealers who specialize in "Home Sales" will advertize alongside
operators in the Yellow Pages. Usually their prices are far 
higher than those of a true operator, so it pays to shop around.
A cool head and "don't appear too eager" are the keys to getting 
a good price. Visiting in person combined with a degree of 
"disinterest" towards the games present, rather than telephoning 
to ask "do you have game X" almost always results in a better 
deal.  There is a detailed FAQ available on buying machines from 
an operator; you should probably read this before you start 
hunting. Check section 4 of this FAQ for details on where to 
find it.

b) ...from auctions,

     Auctions are held periodically around the country. These 
are where operators sell their surplus games, either to other 
operators or to collectors such as yourself. You can find out 
about auctions in your area by reading rgva.collecting (Chris 
McBride [] posts the biweekly 'Coin- Op 
Auctions List', see section 4 for details. There is also a 
fairly constant discussion relating to future auctions in the
group), by checking a "Miscellaneous Games" section in your 
local paper or by asking a few operators in your area (since 
they may be selling games at the auction, you can often get a 
rare showing of helpfulness)  If you live in the USA, you might 
want to consider obtaining a copy of one of the following trade 
magazines (Replay is probably the most popular -single issues of 
Replay are available for $6 each)

Replay Magazine PO Box 2550 CA 91365 (818) 347-3820 
(818) 347-2112 (fax)

Play Meter Magazine 6600 Fleur de Lis PO Box 24970 New Orleans 
LA 70184  (504) 488-7003 (504) 488-7083(fax)

Vending Times 1375 Broadway PO Box 24970 New York NY 10018 
(212) 302-4700  (212) 221-3311 (fax)

     Readers from the UK, should obtain a copy of the newspaper 
'Worlds Fair' which contains a smaller paper called 'Coin Slot'. 
This contains information about upcoming auctions, and also 
many adverts for complete games and boards.

     There is a detailed FAQ available on buying machines from 
an auction; you should probably read this before you start 
hunting. Check section 4 of this FAQ for details on where to 
find it.

c) ...from ads in your local paper,

     Most papers have a "Miscellaneous Games" or equivalent 
Section in the classifieds. Prices are often artificially high, 
as the sellers are hoping to find "gullible" first time buyers. 
This does not, however, prevent you, as an informed buyer, from 
haggling the price back down. Often the sellers will be the same 
people as the dealers listed above who specialize in "Home 

d) ...or from the net!

     You can buy a game from another reader of rgva.collector, 
bearing in mind that shipping a complete game is *NOT* a cost-
effective option (see section 3.7 for shipping details), though 
shipping just the game circuit boards is fairly cheap.  Many 
people have used a company called Forward Air to ship complete 
games and been very happy with it. As I understand it, Whomever 
is shipping the game must put it on a pallet, secure it and pack 
it. The person buying must pick up the game from a Forward Air 
depot. This may include a few hour drive because not every 
airport is on their list. More info may be obtained directly 
from Forward Air. 1-888-643-5116.

There are frequent "For Sale" and "Wanted" adverts for both 
Complete games and just circuit boards posted to the group.


*  If you post your own WANTED/FORSALE advert **PLEASE** mark 
   your ** Subject line with either FORSALE or WANTED and your 
   LOCATION * If you were in the UK and looking for a PacMan pcb 
   use a SUBJECT line similar to:"WANTED (UK): PacMan pcb" If 
   you were in California and selling an upright Space Invaders 
   use a SUBJECT line similar to: "FORSALE (CA): Space Invaders 

is often difficult to tell from looking at your Internet 
address. If you cannotspecify your location in the Subject line, 
or you need to elaborate, please do so in the text of your 
posting (after all, in the examples above, California and the 
UK are BIG places)

     Learn something from how you would advertise in a newspaper 
make your posting stand out. When you advertise in a newspaper, 
you wouldn't leave out information such as price and condition, 
and expect people to call you for details. It's no different via 
email, if you are selling state the price you want, whether this 
includes shipping or not, what the condition of the game is and 
anything else you feel will help you attract a buyers attention. 
Unlike a newspaper, you are not paying by the word, so you are
free to be a little more descriptive.

     If you are posting a "Wanted" ad, state as precicely as 
possible what you want (sorry, but "Games wanted, email me your 
list" just doesn't cut it), state what you are prepared to pay. 
If condition is important, mention the desired condition. If you 
have other criteria be sure to list them also.

     Also, remember, that method of shipment and packing is 
usually left up to the seller, if you want a specific method 
employed, be sure to mention it.

     Finally, it is a good idea for both sides of the 
transaction to remember that they are (most likely) dealing with 
old possibly frail equipment. Rick Schieve ( 
in a posting to rgva.collecting offered some excellent advice to 
prospective buyers and sellers of old Atari XY boards (as a 
result of a disagreement that boiled over into the newsgroup) 
but as with most good advice it can also be applied more 

"Purchasing Tempest and Star Wars Board Sets" [by Rick Schieve, 
edited for clarity and space -- tony]

     Both of these board sets can often be unstable and 
intermitant. One thing I learned is that you cannot call a 
Tempest or SW set good unless you let it run for a while (say 
overnight). I had more complaints of problems with these sets 
than all the others put together. And, not all the complaints
were justified. I'd say about half of these sets worked fine 
when returned to me.

[Summary of specific problems mentioned: marginal edge 
connectors lose or bad solder joints on the interboard 
connectors, insufficient 5v supply from the regulator and 
failing op amps/DtoA converters in the vector generation

     What I have found is that once you get a stable combination 
of components together the machines usually behave. It's just 
painful to get to that point at times.

     Whenever I sold Tempest or SW sets I usually held back a 
few Extra working sets anticipating problems. I'd then simply 
swap For another set if people did have problems. The only times 
there may have been bad feelings is when people wouldn't try the 
boards they received for some time. I'd get a complaint 6 months 
later and had used up the spares I had at the time.  When 
servicing games in general I often ask people if they would even
consider putting $$$ into something like a 15 year old TV set? 
The average game has probably seen more hours of use. Also, 
relatively few games were made and they were really only 
designed to last a few years. Frustration often comes with the 
territory when collecting classic videos"


--  I want to sell a game by advertising on rgva.collecting, are 
there any tips ?

Yes, buying and selling games on the net is discussed in detail 
in section 3.4 (d).


--  How much does a game cost?

How much money do you have?

     Brand-new games can cost $2500 and up. A typical old game 
will go for $100-$200 in decent condition, and old, broken games 
(which *may* be trivial to fix!) can go all the way down to $25.
Experienced collectors often find it cheaper to buy a game 
circuit board and adapt it into an existing cabinet, rather than 
buying the complete game. It's cheaper, and it also saves a lot 
of space. Most boards generally sell for between $5-$25 "as-is" 
in a bulk deal with an operator and $30-40 guaranteed from a 
fellow rgva.collecting reader. See section 3.8 for more details.


-- John Distant has a game I want, but lives far away. Can I 
ship it?

     Yes. Of course, but since a game weighs 200-300 lbs, it'll 
cost you. Usually this translates into about $200-$250 to 
deliver the game To the shipping company's closest warehouse 
(relative to your home). Add extra bucks if you'd like it 
delivered to your doorstep. The seller will also have to "crate" 
the game before taking it to the shipper, which costs additional 
money, to say nothing of his time.  Expect to pay extra to ship 
very long distances, or to ship larger cabinets (i.e 4 player or 
sit down cabinets). Shipping smaller cabinets (i.e coctails) or 
shipping very short distances (next state) may end up slightly
cheaper, but not much.

    Still want to ship the game? Okay, but remember we warned 
you first.  Finding one locally is a far better idea.


--  I have the game "earlygame" and someone just gave me the 
board for the game "latergame". Can I use this board somehow?

--  I want all these games, but I don't have room for this many 
cabinets! What can I do?

     This is generally referred to as "conversion", the process 
of Taking a new game (usually just the circuit board) and 
installing it into the cabinet from an older game.

    This is perhaps the most complex subject for video game 
collectors.  Fortunately, there is a detailed FAQ dedicated to 
the topic; you will likely want to read this before you start 
brandishing your soldering iron.  Check section 4 of this FAQ 
for details on where to find it.


--  I just bought a game, but there is no documentation, can 
someone send me some?

     Don't expect rgva.collecting readers to answer your post 
until you've checked the sources of information outlined below 
and in  section 5.  If the information you are looking for is 
not present in the archives, information on how to locate the 
manufacturer should be, and they are often willing to supply 
documentation for around $10-15 per game.  If that doesn't work, 
your local operator will often have filing cabinets full of 
documentation. Sometimes they will let you leave a deposit and
borrow some. Develop a relationship with your local operator(s); 
it can really pay off when the game's manufacturer has gone out 
of business or discontinued support.

     If you locate some documentation which was not in the 
archives, *PLEASE* take the time to type in some useful sections 
and make it available to the rest of us! (see section 5.1 for 


--  Where can I buy parts for my game? 

     Call the operators listed in the "Amusement Devices" 
section of Your Yellow Pages and find out who your local 
distributor is. They'll be able to help you (for a price). You 
can also try operators for spare parts -- if the game is old and 
they have spares, the price can often be quite a bit cheaper.
Failing this, see section 5 for help in finding the addresses of 
Parts suppliers.


--  Can I hook an arcade game board up to a TV or computer 

     To a first approzimation the answer is yes. Most game 
boards Produce an analog RGB signals and a sync signal (or 2).
These signals can be fed directly into the SCART port on a 
European TV. If the TV doesn't have a SCART port then the RGB 
signals would have to be fed into a box of tricks that converts 
from RGB to NTSC/PAL and modulates the signal so it can be 
plugged into the UHF input of a TV. These converters are 
available commercially.  Most computer monitors with analog RGB 
inputs will happily Display game board signals. A few more 
modern monitors have Difficulty synchronizing down to the low-
resolution scan rates used by all but a handful of video boards. 
Monitors that are easy to use include Commodore 1080, 1084 and
1084S monitors.

4)  Other FAQs for this group: 

The following additional FAQs are available.  See section 5 for 
information on where they can be found

Addresses FAQ: Addresses and telephone numbers for game 
manufacturers and parts suppliers.

--  Buying from an Auction FAQ: How to buy a game from an 
--  Buying from an Operator FAQ: How to buy a game from an 
--  Conversion FAQ: How to convert "game A" to "game B" How to 
       make "board A" play "game B/C/etc." How to run "boards 
       A/B/C" in the same cabinet
--  Coin-Op Auctions List: A biweekly posting to rgva.
       collecting, detailing forthcoming auctions in the United 
       States. This FAQ answers the questions "Is there an 
       auction near me?" and "When is the next xxx Auction?"

5)  Further sources of information:

     It's a good idea to exhaust these sources of information 
before You post a question. Readers are much more likely to 
answer a post when it is clear that the poster has already put 
in some effort themselves.

5.1)  FTP archives:

     The rgva.collecting anonymous FTP archive at 
"" is kindly provided by Al Kossow ( 
The archive is also available over the WWW as:

     Additions/corrections to the archive are welcome, 
especially information about pinouts and switch settings.

     The following information is available via FTP in the 
"arcade" directory.   In each directory, there is a README file 
containing further instructions.

--  CPDist: an archive of postings to rgva.collecting from CP 
       Distributing (see addresses FAQ), includes '' an 
       auction price guide.

--  RFromm:- an archive of postings to rgva.collecting from 
       Randy Fromm (longtime technical contributor to PlayMeter 
       magazine). An index is available as 'RFromm/index.txt'. 
       See section 5.2 for a pointer to Randy's home page.

--  boardPinouts: - a directory containing pinout info for 
       various games
--  gameList: a directory containing the Killer List of Video 
       Games (KLOV)
--  incoming:a directory where you can leave additions. If you 
       do leave something, please send email to "" 
       documenting what you left - THANKS!

--  info: a directory containing informational files - mainly 
       other FAQ's, the following 5 files are a sample of the 
       information available:

--  info/FAQ.addresses: the also Addresses FAQ (game 
       manufacturers and parts suppliers)

--  info/ - the Buying from an Operator FAQ

--  info/ Buying from an Auction FAQ

--  info/VAPSlistMMMYY: - the VAPS membership list for month 
       "MMM", year "YY"

--  info/pinoutinfo.lst: a list of available pinout and dip 
       switch information 

--  conversion: a directory containing conversion information 
       for various games

--  conversion/Conversion_FAQ_v?.? - the Conversion FAQ, 
       detailing how to convert games (see section 4)

--  repairHints: a directory containing some common repair 

--  switchSettings: a directory containing dip switch setting 
       info for various games

5.2)  World Wide Web (WWW) pages:

     The following WWW pages cover arcade game collecting, or 
Provide information that may be useful for collectors (for a 
more complete list, see the "Classic Video Games Nexus"). 
Several commercial companies (parts suppliers etc.) also have 
home pages. For these URLs, see the Addresses FAQ (section 4).

     If you would like your page listed here or have 
corrections/comments please send me mail.

The archive (see section 5.1 for details):

     Although other Web sites may have HTMLized versions of the 
FAQs and other information, is usually guaranteed 
to have the most upto date version.

     Most of the FAQ's from rgva.collecting in WWW hypertext 
format.  (NOTE: these versions may not be as current as those 
available above from

The VAPS home page: URL

     The home page for the Video Arcade Preservation Society 
(VAPS). Maintained by Kevin Ruddy ( Also 
includes a searchable version of the KLOV. See section 6 for 
more informarion on VAPS and the KLOV.

Classic Video Games Nexus home page: URL

     Probably the most complete set of arcade related WWW links.

The Virtual Coin-Op Museum: URL

     On-line museum for Coin-Operated Arcade Games. Currently 
also houses Steven Ryner's Classic Arcade Games page and 
Steven's writeup of his visit to the National Coin-Op and Video 
Game Museum, located in St. Louis, Missouri,

"The Atari Arcade Game Page" by Jess Askey: URL

     A complete source of information on Atari XY games. 
Recently Extended to cover some Atari raster games.

Jess Askey's Arcade Games Page: 

     As if keeping the "Atari Arcade Game Page" up to date 
wasn't Enough work, Jess also maintains this site which he 
describes as a "good resource for beginners". Additions and 
suggestions for the page are welcome.

Tim Hoffman's XY home page:URL

     Information on Atari, Century, Cinematronics, Midway, 
Rockola, Sega (take cover) and Vectorbeam XY games.

Sean Riddle's Williams Arcade Games home page: URL

     Lots of useful tips for anyone who owns or dreams of 
owning a Williams Electronics video game.

E-glide's game description pages: Defender, Joust and 
Robotron: URL

Sinistar (includes short interview with Noah Falstein, 
Sinistar project leader at Williams):

Q-Bert: URL

Denis Hruza's Arcade home page: URL

     Pages dedicated to Sinistar, Stern, Crystal Castles, Space 
Duel and Elevator Action.

David Shoemaker's "Laser Head" FAQ home page:

     Is your head out of alignment? Need help with your optics? 
If so, take a look at David's page.

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